Purchasing Card Policies and Procedures

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PCard Policies & Procedures*

Authorized Use & Restrictions

All purchases must be for University business purposes only. Personal use is strictly prohibited. Any violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action, beginning with revocation of card privileges.

Only the approved cardholder is authorized to use the card and must maintain confidentiality of his or her account information. Sharing the card number only increases the risk of fraud.

The PCard is NOT to be used for business travel expenses or non-local meeting expense. The Travel Office issues separate cards for such expenses: please visit www.bu.edu/travel.

Abuse & Fraudulent Use

Fraudulent use or misuse of the PCard will result in revocation of the card. The University will seek restitution for any inappropriate charges made to the account. Misuse of the PCard may result in corrective action up to and including termination and/or possible legal action. It is important to remember that the PCard program is not intended to bypass purchasing or travel request procedures currently in place at Boston University. The PCard is never to be presented for personal use.

Spending Limits

Each cardholder has a specific transaction amount and monthly credit limits. With very few exceptions, the limit per transaction is $1,000 and the limit for monthly expenditures is $10,000. The monthly limit may be adjusted by the PCard Program Administrator with the approval of department and unit fiscal managers.

Asking a vendor to split the purchase of an item into separate transactions (or on multiple days) in order to keep the purchase under the cardholders’ single purchase limit is strictly prohibited.

Travel Expense Guidelines for PCard Use

General Guideline: The use of the PCard for employee local travel expenses, such as restaurant meals, and local hotel stays, is prohibited on the PCard. While local transportation expenses are allowed for employees other than the PCard holder (for example, the purchase of Charlie Cards or truck rentals for use on University Business) local transportation expenses for the PCard holder are not allowed. Because of the special sensitivity of these kinds of transactions, the requirement for detailed documentation, and the potential for abuse, these transactions must be reimbursed through a reimbursement or travel expense form.

  • Airfare – BU Travelers
    • Use of PCard for employee airfare travel payment is strictly prohibited. The Diners Club Corporate Card or a personal card must be used to purchase air travel for BU employees.
  • Airfare – Guests
    • On occasions where the University wishes to provide airfare for a guest or visitor to our campuses, the PCard should be used to purchase the flight.
  • Auto Rental – Local
    • When an automobile is needed for the PCard holder on or around campus, the PCard should be used. Local travel expenses may be reimbursed with the PCard for guests, students, and employees other than the PCard holder.
  • Auto Rental – While Traveling
    • Use of PCard for employee auto rentals while traveling is strictly prohibited. When University employees are traveling and need to rent an automobile, the Diners Club Corporate Card or a personal card should be used.
  • Conference Registration Fees
    • Before traveling to a conference (local or remote), any applicable registration fees should be purchased using the PCard.
  • Hotel Reservations – BU Employees
    • Use of PCard for employee travel payment is strictly prohibited. Lodging for traveling University employees should always be purchased with either the Diners Cub Corporate Card or a personal card.
  • Hotel Reservations – Local (Guests)
    • Local hotels are used to lodge business guests and visitors of the University. The hotels should be selected from the list of preferred establishments within the Boston area. The PCard should be used to book local hotels for business guests and visitors of the University.
  • Meals – Local Business Meetings
    • The PCard may be used to purchase food and beverages for on- campus business meetings. The PCard may not be used to pay for off campus business meals.
  • Meals – Traveling BU Employees
    • Use of PCard for employee or non-employee meals & entertainment related to travel is strictly prohibited. When University employees are required to travel (days trips or overnight trips), food and beverages for the employee and their business guest(s) should be purchased with the Diners Club Corporate Card or a personal card.
  • Meetings Expense – Local
    • The PCard should be used for catering and/or other expenses needed for meetings held at Boston University.
  • Parking on or Near Campus
    • Local parking expenses may be charged to the PCard for students, guests, and employees other than the PCard holder.
  • Parking While Traveling
    • Use of PCard for employee parking while traveling is strictly prohibited. While traveling, all parking expenses should be paid for with either the Diners Club Corporate Card or a personal card.
  • Taxi Service – Local
    • Taxis or other livery services at or near Boston University can be purchased with the PCard for students, guests, and employees other than the PCard holder
  • Taxi Service – While Traveling
    • Use of PCard for taxi service while traveling is strictly prohibited. When traveling, BU employees should use the Diners Club Corporate Card or a personal card to pay for taxis and any other form of transportation.
Typical PCard Purchases
  • Advertising – Employment/Newspaper
  • Materials and supply items from preferred suppliers
  • Office and laboratory supplies
  • Books and subscriptions (including magazines, research and on-line services)
  • Express mail shipping charges, couriers and postal meters
  • Education and training/seminars
  • Dues and memberships (i.e., business related associations, etc.)
  • Conference fees/registration
  • Bottled water
  • Freight fees (including duties, taxes and applicable customers brokerage fees)
  • Photocopy expenses

*****The PCard can be used to pay for restaurant costs for BU events where the majority of the attendees are students, prospective students, Alumni, prospective donors or other non BU employees*****

Excluded Commodities
  • Radioactive substances
  • Controlled substances
  • Furniture, drapes, and carpeting
  • Equipment leases
  • Travel expenses
  • Service/maintenance contracts
  • Legal fees
  • Mortgages, rents, and real estate taxes
  • Employee relocation services
  • Donations to charitable organizations
  • Translations, interpreting and language study
  • Gift cards
  • Liquor store purchases (limited exceptions with prior approval)
  • Temporary labor and independent contractors
Tax Exemption

With the exception of prepared meals and temporary lodging, purchases made on behalf of the University are not taxable.

Vendors need to be informed of this fact and provided with the University’s tax-exempt ID number, which is printed on the face and back of the PCard. Vendors may also request copies of the Massachusetts ST-2 and ST-5 tax exemption forms, which are available from the Comptroller’s web site.

If tax is charged, cardholders should seek a credit from the vendor.

Any questions about the taxability of a purchase should be referred to the Comptroller’s Office at (617) 353-6599 or (617) 353-3529.

*Required reading for all cardholders and administrators.